Founded in 2004, Free the Hops is a grassroots organization formed to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama.
We have passed significant legislation, including the Gourmet Beer Bill that legalized beer with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of more than 6% and the Brewery Modernization Act that legalized brewery and distillery tasting rooms. We also supported the legalization of homebrewing and serve as a watchdog for craft beer consumers in Montgomery.
We have hosted the Magic City Brewfest in Birmingham since 2007 and the Rocket City Brewfest in Huntsville since 2009. These two festivals are the premier craft beer events in Alabama.
Since late 2019, Free the Hops is a program of the Alabama Brewers Guild. The management is led by a Governing Committee of dedicated consumer volunteers.
Free the Hops History
Free the Hops Timeline
Free the Hops merges with the Alabama Brewers Guild
After more than a year of discussion, Free the Hops officially joins forces with the Alabama Brewers Guild. The organization will continue to be semi-autonomous and run by a Governing Committee of consumer volunteers.
Brewery Participation in Entertainment Districts
Governor Ivey signs legislation that allows brewery tasting rooms to fully participate in Alabama’s entertainment districts. Previous law appeared to exclude these businesses from these areas that allow patrons to carry alcohol from a licensed premises throughout the district in to-go cups.
Satellite Brewpubs Legalized
Governor Ivey signs legislation to allow breweries to own satellite brewpub locations. Unlike the traditional brewery license, a brewpub is authorized to have a full bar with beer, wine, and spirits purchased from licensed wholesalers and the ABC Board.
Taproom Hours of Operation Clarified
Governor Ivey signs legislation to clarify that breweries, distilleries, and wineries can operate their tasting rooms between 9 PM Saturday and 2 AM the following Monday. Existing law appeared to prohibit sales during these times.
Distillery Bottle Allowance Increased
Governor Ivey signs legislation to allow distilleries to sell up to 3 bottles of spirits from the distillery per person per day. The previous law, created in 2016, limited sales to a single bottle.
Consumer Privacy Bill Enacted
Governor Ivey signs legislation backed by Free the Hops to protect consumer privacy. Sponsored by Senator Bill Holtzclaw, the bill prohibits the ABC requiring breweries, distilleries, and wineries from maintaining the name, address, or other personal demographic information from their customers.
ABC Drops Consumer Tracking Regulation
The ABC adopted a new regulation for record-keeping requirements without the invasive consumer tracking provision. Free the Hops considered this a victory for consumer privacy.
ABC Proposes Consumer Tracking Regulation
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board proposes a rule that would require breweries to track the name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and amount of purchase for brewery, distillery, and winery customers. Free the Hops strongly opposed this proposal as an unnecessary invasion of privacy.
Distillery Bottle Bill Passes
Governor Bentley signs the Distillery Bottle Bill. This legislation authorizes distilleries to sell 750 mL of spirits per person per day for off-premise consumption.
Growler Bill Passes
Governor Bentley signs the Growler Bill. This legislation removed all state location restrictions on brewpubs except that it must be located in a wet county or municipality, allowed small breweries to sell up to 288 oz per person per day for off-premise consumption, and allowed brewery donations to charitable events.
Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission created
HJR154 is created to form the Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission. This 9-member panel was created to consider and develop legislation for better laws regarding craft beverage manufacturers like breweries, distilleries, and wineries.
Homebrew Legalization Signed Into Law
Homebrew legalization was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley!
Gourmet Bottle Bill Signed Into Law
The Gourmet Bottle is signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley!
Homebrew Legalization Passes House
Homebrew legalization passes the Alabama House of Representatives by a vote of 44-33, but it dies at the end of the year after the State Senate failed to consider it.
Gourmet Bottle Bill First Introduced
The Gourmet Bottle Bill was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Jim Barton and Senator Paul Sanford. One of the primary drivers of the formation of Free the Hops, the Gourmet Bottle Bill would raise the permissible container size of beer bottles from 16 fl. oz. to 25.4 fl. oz.
Brewery Modernization Act Signed Into Law
Governor Robert Bentley signs the Brewery Modernization Act into law, legalizing brewery tasting rooms in Alabama.
Homebrew Legalization Fails House Vote
Legislation to legalize homebrewing in Alabama, now sponsored by Representative Mac McCutcheon, fails to pass the Alabama House of Representatives on a vote of 28-45.
Brewery Modernization Act Passes Senate
The Brewery Modernization Act passes the State Senate with a 13-7 vote, but it dies at the end of the year after the Alabama House of Representatives failed to consider it.
Homebrew Legalization Passes State Senate
Legislation to legalize homebrewing in Alabama passes the State Senate by a 13-6 vote. It later dies after the Alabama House of Representatives failed to consider the bill.
Brewery Modernization Act First Introduced
The Brewery Modernization Act is first introduced in the State Senate by Senator Bill Holtzclaw. This bill sought to legalize brewery tasting rooms in Alabama.